Stanford jumped all over Maryland Eastern Shore early and put the game away before halftime. Despite a lackluster final 20 minutes, the Cardinal came away with a 76-55 win to move to 5-0 for the first time since 2011.
The difference in level was abundantly clear from the tip. Maryland Eastern Shore plays in the lowly MEAC conference, with a roster mostly comprised of JUCO castoffs. Their starting lineup featured a 5’7” point guard and a 6’6” center. Stanford got the ball into the paint at will against the smaller Hawks, and Oscar da Silva and company built a quick 14-1 advantage.
UMES didn’t make their first field goal until 8 minutes into the game. The Cardinal defense was forcing turnovers aplenty, and conceded very few decent looks.
“That’s been our focus all year, playing defense as a team, everybody being in the gaps and everybody helping,” said Spencer Jones. “And that’s what we can be: an elite defensive team if we play like that.” Stanford has held 3 of their 5 opponents to 21 or fewer first half points.
They used a 13-0 run to balloon the lead before the half, and took a 46-16 advantage into the break. There were many statistical marvels from the first period, but none more stark than Oscar da Silva scoring the same point total as the visitors, despite logging just 10 minutes. UMES made only 5 field goals while committing 11 turnovers, and the Cardinal sported shooting splits of 61/86/80.
As is often the case, the hosts took their foot off the gas in the second half. Just three minutes into the period, Coach Haase made a wholesale change, inserting reserves and end of the bench players like Keenan Fitzmorris and Rodney Herenton.
“The first 5 out there were making mistakes mentally, physically, and effort-wise,” said Haase. “We were trying to insert a little energy and get guys out there playing hard and intelligently. That didn’t work either.”
The Hawks took advantage of the new, sloppy lineup and went on a 13-3 run, punctuated by multiple breakaway dunks. Haase promptly subbed his starters back in, but they took their time regaining their competitive edge, and missed two dunks in the process. The two sets of 5 scored just 10 points in the half’s first 10 minutes, and the lead was cut to as little as 18.
“At halftime, Coach was telling us not to allow our energy to dip,” said Jaiden Delaire. “And that’s what we did at the start of the second half. But the guys rallied together and we were able to pick it back up.”
They did put together one last promising burst, sparked by Delaire and Tyrell Terry. The two underclassmen played with the type of energy they had in the first half, and hit UMES with a quick 14-0 run to push the lead back to 32. In the closing minutes Stanford subbed freely, and the final score looked a little bit closer.
Stanford was led by the 21 of Jaiden Delaire, a new career high. His coach once again touted the level of intensity he’s been showing this year. Spencer Jones had 12 points, on 4-5 from deep. He’s made 16 threes this season, but has yet to make a two point field goal. Tyrell Terry added 10 for his fifth straight double-figure performance. As a team they committed 13 second-half turnovers, which overshadowed many of the good things they did.
The Cardinal host a tough William & Mary squad on Thursday. The Tribe nearly knocked off Oklahoma in Norman, and go 6’10” and 7’0” in their starting front court, with both players averaging double-doubles.